Microsoft has launched an Employee Experience platform, named Microsoft Viva. With remote working becoming a permanent part of working life, it is even more important that employers to better engage with employees. The new Viva platform aims to deliver this combining employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and knowledge discovery. Viva integrates seamlessly into Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft commented: “We have participated in the largest at-scale remote work experiment the world has seen, and it has had a dramatic impact on the employee experience. Every organization will require a unified employee experience from onboarding and collaboration to continuous learning and growth. Viva brings together everything an employee needs to be successful, from day one, in a single, integrated experience directly in Teams.”
Employee Experience is becoming a huge category in its own right. Microsoft cited analysts as saying that organisations are spending $300 billion a year in the category. With such a large pie, no wonder Microsoft is making a play for it.
Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Microsoft 365 commented: “As the world of work changes, the next horizon of innovation will come from a focus on creativity, engagement and wellbeing so organizations can build cultures of resilience and ingenuity. Our vision is to deliver a platform for the employee experience that helps organizations create a thriving culture with engaged employees and inspiring leaders.”
Spataro also revealed more information about the release in a blog. Microsoft service partners such as Accenture, Avanade, PwC and EY are already able to assist organisations in deploying the solution with their consulting services
What is Viva?
Viva consists of four core components, Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, and Viva Topics. However, before diving into these, it is important to remember that it is part of the wider Microsoft ecosystem. Key to this is the integration with Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft Apps such as Sharepoint, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform. It allows Microsoft to offer an employee-centric solution that enables organisations to strengthen the bonds with their organisation and vice versa.
Can perhaps be described a new generation intranet. Viva Connections provides a hub where an organisation can share news. The difference is that employees can receive a personalised feed through their chosen interface such as SharePoint, Yammer, or Microsoft Stream. Organisations can push information through Teams and can engage with employees through Yammer or SharePoint. Connections is also extensible with third-party apps.
Available within Microsoft Teams Viva Insights provides actionable insights for employees and managers through their Teams feed. The solution is available in preview now. Microsoft gave no date for general availability. However, Microsoft has a strong roadmap for this solution. It intends to integrate Glint, LinkedIn Learning and Headspace to provide additional features. Insights will provide employees and managers with suggestions to improve productivity and wellbeing. The solution is personalised to the individual, and the insights are not shared across the organisation, maintaining data privacy.
Available in private preview, Viva Learning will provide access to online learning libraries, including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and third party content providers. Microsoft has already integrated the solution to content providers such as Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX. Other LMS providers looking to integrate in the coming months include Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors.
Apratim Purakayastha, Chief Technology Officer, Skillsoft commented: “Microsoft is breaking new ground by eliminating the separation between work and learning for millions of people across the globe. Skillsoft is proud to be a part of this learning revolution, adding our collection of robust learning experiences to Microsoft Viva Learning so that we can close the gap between knowing and doing together.”
Therefore, Viva Learning provides a single portal to an immense volume of learning content through Microsoft Teams. Viva Learning will be generally available later in 2021.
Generally available now, customers of Microsoft 365 can already try or purchase Viva Topics. This solution has emerged from the Project Cortex Preview program. This solution is powered by Microsoft Graph and surfaces connections between disparate solutions into a single view. The Graph-based content connector already draws information from more than 130 data sources. These include Salesforce, ServiceNow, MediaWiki, file shares, and Microsoft Azure services. API connectors are available for an organisation to surface their information into the solution.
At present suggestions are surfaced in the topic centre; in time, these will be surfaced in both Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams. Topics also provides a page that combines the information on each topic. The pages are editable effectively creating a unique and comprehensive wiki for any subject within an organisation.
Josh Bersin, a research analyst and noted expert on employee experience technology, also consulted with Microsoft on Viva and noted in his blog: “This app could be the most disruptive of all.
“Going forward, as Viva Topics picks up speed, companies will have an out of the box Microsoft solution that finds relevant information, locates experts, and helps organize compliance and documentation at enterprise scale. And I have to believe skills inference is coming next.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
While not all of the solution is available, this is a significant launch by Microsoft. It draws together several acquisitions into an employee engagement platform that will be hard to rival. With a single move, Microsoft has elevated Teams above its main rival, Slack. Slack may need to integrate tightly into Viva to leverage the functionality. It will take some time before it could rival what Microsoft has done with these four applications.
Bersin commented: “Microsoft Viva is a groundbreaking Employee Experience Platform, ushering in a new enterprise software category that focuses entirely on the daily needs of employees at work. Viva will enable companies to integrate their fragmented workplace tools and provide them in the flow of work.”